Tuesday, January 31, 2017

February challenge

Well, it seems I spoke too soon about this new medication working. I had a terrible day yesterday. It's still only been three weeks since I started taking it, but after this weekend and yesterday, I'm not so sure it's doing anything. I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor on the 9th, so we can figure out what to do then.

It's so weird how much my emotions can swing sometimes. I'm going to ask my doctor about testing my hormones and vitamins and things, too, just to make sure it's not something to do with that. I'm just SO ready to get out of this funk that's been going on since June!

I have managed to stay on track with my eating, though.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Who's Who on My Blog

Here is a list of the people I may mention on my blog, so you know who's who:

Jerry- My husband. We started dating in 1999, and got married in 2003. Jerry is very fun and goofy, which is what I love best about him. He treats me like a princess, and is a fantastic dad to our kids. He works a swing shift, which is a little crazy at times, but it works well for us. Jerry has written a couple of guest posts for my blog, which you can find here and here. And he is known for his "Jerry face" in photos, which you will see often. That's just the way he rolls. And I love him for not caring what anyone else thinks about his quirkiness!

Jerry face at my brother's wedding

Noah- My 13-year old son. As he is entering his teen years, I prefer to respect his privacy, so I won't be writing many personal things about him. (And I always get his permission before posting his photos). Noah is ridiculously smart, funny, and asks some bizarre questions. He plays baseball, and is an excellent pitcher! Noah is definitely a daddy's boy, taking after Jerry in so many ways. His newest passion is grilling, and he got a grill for his birthday, so he's been using that to cook for us.

Eli- My 11-year old son. Again I am going to be minimizing what I write on the blog about him, but Eli is one of the sweetest kid you'll ever meet. He adores animals, and has a compassion unlike any boy I've ever seen at his age. He's artistic and creative, and he's most certainly a mama's boy. He still gives me hugs and kisses in front of his friends, which makes my heart happy. He also plays baseball, and while he would love to be a pitcher, he is honestly a fantastic catcher. He and Noah make the perfect pair on the ball field. His other passion is fishing--he could fish all day long.

Joey- Our black lab/chow chow mix that we adopted from the animal shelter in February 2015. You can read about the day of his adoption here. He has changed our lives in so many ways! I used to be very scared of dogs (I've been bitten three times while out running), but having Joey has helped me get rid of that fear. I've learned to read dogs' body language, which has been very helpful. Joey is very much a "people dog", meaning that he'd rather hang out with his people (us) than do anything else.

Having a blast at Lucky Puppy, his doggy daycare

Phoebe- Our orange tabby cat. (Fun fact: Female orange tabby's are very rare--most are male.) She was a stray that needed a home. She is extremely unique in that she has some sort of sixth sense--she always knows when someone is upset, and she will cuddle with that person. Any time one of us cries, Phoebe will be there within two minutes for cuddles. I believe she was abused by her previous owner, because she has a bb underneath her skin (she was shot by a bb gun), and half of her tail is missing. She was extremely skittish for the first couple of years we had her, but now that she trusts us, she really adores attention.

Estelle- Our tortoiseshell cat. She was also a stray looking for a home. She has the funniest personality--or "tortitude", as a lot of tortie owners refer to that attitude ;) She's very vocal and loves to "chat" with us. She's also the most curious cat you will ever meet! Any new item brought into the house must be thoroughly inspected by Estelle. And no box is too small for her--she will inevitably find a way to fit into it.

Sue & Les (a.k.a. Mom and Dad)- My parents. They've been married since 1971, and they live less than a mile away. They adore being grandparents, and my kids think it's awesome that they can go visit pretty much any time they want to. My parents are both technically retired, but they have seasonal/part time jobs that they enjoy doing, so they can stay busy.

Dad & Mom

Jeanie- My sister, who is eight years older than me. She is an occupational therapist who lives in Illinois with her husband Shawn. They don't have kids, but they have basset hounds who are treated like children ;) They both started running when I hosted a virtual 5K race, and they've stuck to it! Here is a guest post from Jeanie.

Shawn & Jeanie

Brian & Becky- My older brother, who is six years older than me. He is a Delta pilot, and lived in St. Paul for the last 20 years or so. He just moved back to Michigan, which is fun because I get to see him much more often! He is married to Becky, and they just had a baby boy in March 2017, making me an AUNT! His name is Lucas, but I  call him Luke. Brian and Becky love to travel, and they go to exotic places pretty much every weekend. (Things have changed a bit since Luke was born, but he has already traveled more than I have this year.)

Nathan- My younger ("little") brother, who is two years younger than me. He was in the Army after high school, and spent four years in Iraq. Now he lives in Michigan and is an apprentice for DTE Energy. Nathan started running in 2014, and he's turned into an amazing runner! He's gotten fast, and he even ran a 50K race in 2015. Here is a guest post from Nathan about how running helped him overcome much of his PTSD.

Mark- A family friend who was intellectually disabled. He was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in late 2013, and died in March 2014. He was one of the kindest, happiest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. I did everything I could to make him happy before he passed, including much help from my readers who showered him with cards and gifts, which I documented on my blog. Here is his story.

With Mark just after he was diagnosed

Some other friends I may mention here and there:

Thomas- My best friend who lives in Portland, Oregon. I actually met him through my blog! Our friendship is very light-hearted and fun, and he is my most "honest" friend--the one who tells me the truth, even if it's harsh. I visit him in Portland once or twice a year. (And despite some speculation in comments on my blog, it IS possible for a guy and girl to be just friends--which we are; Jerry loves Thomas as well. Ain't no time for drama here!) Thomas blogs here about his running.

Andrea- Andrea is more of a private person, so I don't write much about her on the blog, but she is my best girlfriend. I can tell her anything at all, knowing that she doesn't gossip. We are actually very much alike in a lot of ways, and she is extremely empathetic. We laugh about totally inappropriate things, which is one thing I love most about her.

If we look drunk, it's because we probably were, hahaha
There are lots of others that I may mention here and there, but those are the people I write about most frequently. They're great people! :)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hello, Year 36

In case you haven't noticed, I've finally picked up the posting frequency on my blog--I hope this means that my new antidepressant is working! I haven't felt a huge difference in my mood, but I've definitely felt a subtle, "Huh, I don't feel as sad today" or "I feel kind of energetic today". I've been making more plans, too, which is another sign it may be helping. I still don't feel back to "normal", but also not as bad off as I felt a month ago.

I don't know if my dad will be thrilled about my sharing the following story, but it was so special that I think it needs to be shared...

Monday, January 23, 2017

Secrets from the Eating Lab (book review)

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book to review, but I am not being paid for this post or anything else. I was just asked to write an honest review in exchange for the book. Thank you, TLC Book Tours, for thinking of me!

Before I get into the review, I just want to say that TLC Book Tours, if you haven't heard of it, is a really great way to read book reviews written by bloggers around the web. There are links to several bloggers' reviews for each book, as well as purchase links and the book description. It's similar to Goodreads, but smaller, more focused, and the reviews are more in-depth (the reviews aren't on the site--just the links to them--which I like, because I enjoy reading more in-depth reviews, particularly about books like this).

If you're a blogger, you can also sign up there to be a "tour host", which is what I am.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

RECIPE: Ground Turkey and Cabbage with Spicy Peanut Sauce

I've been kind of obsessed with bagged coleslaw mix lately (it's just shredded cabbage and carrots). It started when I tried making "Egg roll in a bowl". That turned out really good, but had way too much soy sauce, so it was very salty; but, I liked the texture, and cabbage is my favorite vegetable. So, I started playing with it and adding it to other things as well. Surprisingly, my whole family loves it, too!

Yesterday, I made the filling for P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps and then instead of eating it in lettuce wraps, I added a whole bag of the coleslaw mix and we ate it out of bowls. Everyone kept exclaiming how good it was, even my kids!

I have no idea what to call this, so I'm just going to call it what it is: Ground Turkey and Cabbage with Spicy Peanut Sauce. There are tons of copycat P.F. Chang recipes, but here is how I made it (loosely based on this recipe):

1 Tbsp. canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
1 onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground turkey (93/7)
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger (I use the squeeze bottle of ginger)
2-1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. smooth peanut butter
1/2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. Sriracha
1 bag of coleslaw mix (just cabbage and carrots; no dressing!)
5 green onions, chopped (you may just want to use 3, but I happen to love green onions)
Small can of water chestnuts, chopped (I forgot to add these yesterday--bummer!)
Peanuts for topping

In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients: soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, peanut butter, honey, and Sriracha. Microwave it for about 30 seconds to soften the peanut butter, and stir until (mostly) smooth.

Heat the canola oil over medium high heat, and add the onion. Sauté the onion for a couple of minutes, and then add the ground turkey and garlic. Cook, breaking up the turkey, until it's browned and the onion is soft. Add the ginger and coleslaw mix, and continue to sauté until the cabbage just starts to get soft. Add the water chestnuts, green onion, and sauce, and stir well to combine. Heat through until the cabbage is the texture you want (the longer you cook it, the softer it gets, obviously).

Makes about five cups (shown above is one cup). Top each serving with about a tablespoon of peanuts (I didn't include the peanuts in the nutrition info). Nutrition info is for one fifth of the recipe (about one cup).

Ground Turkey & Cabbage with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Hey Friends,

I'm going to try a little test post, and I'm wondering if some of you can give me some feedback. I'd like to eventually switch all of my recipes from my recipes blog over to Runs for Cookies. However, I don't want to fill up your feeds or email inboxes with a ton of recipes posts! So, I'm going to backdate the recipes, and hope that they won't show up on my front page or in your feeds. 

This is my test post. If you subscribe by email, could you let me know if this shows up? Or, if you subscribe by anything else (Bloglovin', etc.) please let me know if it shows up in your feed. 

Thanks so much! I'm curious how this will work out.

The first recipe I'm going to post here is Ground Turkey and Cabbage with Spicy Peanut Sauce. 

Ground Turkey and Cabbage with Spicy Peanut Sauce (recipe)

This is going to be a very long, boring post about my day yesterday. I am posting a recipe at the end, so you can skip down to that if you'd like ;)

Well, it's only been a few days of consciously working on changing my eating habits again, but so far, so good. I have no idea if it's working, because I have no scale right now; but I'm eating on my regular schedule, and I'm tracking my calories.

Yesterday, nothing seemed to be going right, and I was very busy, so it was a stressful day.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A tale of two scales

So, the most ironic thing happened yesterday. I was finally going to start doing Wednesday Weigh-ins again, like I mentioned on a previous post. I don't know if I'll continue them, but for now I really need something to give me a push to stay on track.

When I got on the scale, however, it kept reading 888.8 and then turning off. I know my weight is up, but I'm pretty sure I don't weigh 888 pounds. I got out my trusty old scale that I've had for a million years (or 14) and got on that. It read, "LO". Really?!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Run Your First Mile

I want to preface this post by encouraging you to be open-minded, even if you think you absolutely cannot run. At 253 pounds, I never, in my wildest dreams, could have imagined I would one day run one mile, let alone a whole marathon. Yes, there are people who have health conditions or ailments that prevent them from running, and of course you should listen to your doctor; but, if you have the doctor's go-ahead, then I believe that just about anyone can run a mile.

I only write that because it makes me sad when I hear someone say, "Oh, I could never be a runner." I felt the same way... until I became one ;)

This past summer, I was asked to write a "Run Your First Mile" plan for From Fat to Finish Line (the company that produced the documentary I was in). My teammate Rik had already written a plan for them, but considering the people who will be using it, I thought it would be a good idea to have a second plan option that is different from what they may have tried before. Rik's plan follows the standard "walk-run-walk-run" intervals, which is what most beginner plans do; as I've mentioned several times on my blog, I despised doing intervals when I was learning to run.

August 2011 (still wearing cotton instead
of tech fabric! haha)

The main reason I didn't like running intervals was because I was always dreading the next running portion. I lived for the moments where I got a quick walk break; and then it was back to huffing and puffing during the run parts. Also, intervals are HARD. I had zero confidence in my ability when I was feeling like death after the first interval. I started thinking, "Why do I have to do intervals at all? Why can't I just get all the run portions out of the way in the very beginning, and then I can walk the rest of the time?"

And so my own plan was born--and this was back in 2010, before I knew anything at all about running. I began to do my own thing, and it worked much better for me. Since then, I've run dozens of races, tried several different training plans for various distances, obtained my RRCA running coach certification, and written numerous running plans for others, as well as myself. I still believe that my "Run Your First Mile" plan is a solid one, and a good option for people who may hate intervals like I did.

From Fat to Finish Line ended up using Rik's plan for their needs, but Angela encouraged me to make mine available here in case someone decides intervals just aren't for them. This method is what got me started as a runner, as well as dozens of my readers who used the same method (using my Walk to Run plan). This "Run Your First Mile" is very similar to the Walk to Run plan, but the end target is to run your first mile rather than run for 30 minutes straight.

Here is what the first two weeks look like:

Here is the link to download the whole plan in PDF form. (It's free)

(Edit to add: I accidentally had the privacy settings on the download, but I just corrected it, so it should work now!)

The plan is great for anyone who is capable of walking 30 minutes, 3 times a week; and it will help you to run your first mile anywhere from about Week 5 to Week 8 (depending on your pace).

The number one thing I want anyone to remember when starting to run is this: If it feels too hard, SLOW DOWN. It sounds so simple, and it is--just by slowing your running pace down to the slowest you can possibly run (a slow shuffle is just fine!), you'll be amazed at how much farther you can make yourself go. My brother gave me this advice when I started out, and to this day, it's the best advice I've received about running.

There are some things I wish I knew as a beginner, so I'll share those as well. Here are some random tidbits that may come in handy:

  • Cotton gets very heavy when it gets wet (from sweat, rain, etc). I would definitely recommend getting some moisture-wicking clothing. It doesn't have to be expensive, either! Some of my favorite running clothes actually came from Wal-Mart and cost about $10.
  • Invest in your running shoes. Even for those just beginning, I strongly encourage you to go get fitted for running shoes at a proper running store. These likely will be expensive, but they will last you for about 400 miles of running. And good shoes can prevent injury, make running more enjoyable, and make you feel less sore.
  • It's okay to stop during run--to take a drink, answer an important phone call, chat with a friend you bumped into, pick up a quarter, or anything else. When I first started running, I thought it "didn't count" if I stopped at all, even at a stop light. That's silly! Runners stop all the time for various reasons. Just keep it brief and keep going. It still counts.
  • Likewise, you can still say you "ran a half-marathon" (or whatever distance) if you walked through the water stations. Believe it or not, this is one of the most common questions I am asked.
  • If a friend offers to run with you, don't fear that you are "holding them back" because your pace is slower. Chances are, you friend already knows you're not out to qualify for Boston as you prepare to run your first mile; and they wouldn't have offered to run with you if they didn't want to. I always enjoy running with people who are slower than I am, because it's fun to chat and it makes the time go by fast. If I have speed work or something that must be done, then I just choose a different day to run with a partner.

I don't want to put too much info here, because I don't want anyone to get overwhelmed before they even run their first step! But when the time is right, here are some more posts I've written that beginners may find helpful:

How to Get Started as a Runner
Running Lingo
50 Running Tips
On Starting to Run and Running Faster
Running Motivation (my favorite books and movies about running)
On Fueling For/During a Run

Tips for Training For and Running Your First 5K
Tips for Training For and Running Your First 10K
Tips for Training For and Running Your First Half Marathon
Tips for Training For and Running Your First Marathon

Best of wishes as you run your first mile! xo

Monday, January 16, 2017

A good weekend

All things considered, I had a pretty good weekend! (What a boring blog post title, right? I just couldn't think of one today.) On Friday, I went up to Detroit for a few hours, which is one of my favorite places to be. If it was warmer, I would have loved to walk the Riverwalk (my favorite place to relax and enjoy some free time without an agenda). My friend Andrea has never walked the Riverwalk, so when the weather is nicer, I want to take her there. On Friday night, Jerry and I had a mini date night (we didn't really do anything special, but the kids were with my dad so we had the evening to ourselves). 

On Saturday morning, I asked Andrea if she'd want to exercise in the pool after I got done with my run, and she said sure; so, I packed a couple changes of clothes (running and swimming) and went to the rec center. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Facing the gain

Thank you all so much for the kind comments on my last post! I always feel so vulnerable when I write about such personal topics as depression, but it does feel nice to get it out in the open--and you all are so kind. Thank you for that! I also love to read the ideas from others that they have found helpful in treating their own depression. I haven't noticed a change with the new medication yet, but today is only the third day since I started it, so it needs more time.

I have no good pics for this post, so here is a selfie
with a cat mug that Jerry got me for Christmas ;)
I have noticed a big correlation between my weight and my depression. As my depression gets worse, my weight goes up; and as my depression gets better, my weight goes down. This is likely due to comfort eating, as well as lack of motivation to exercise. I wish that I didn't seek comfort in food! I am going to do my best to be more aware of it, though, and hopefully find alternatives that make me feel better. It's something I've been talking with my therapist about.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A candid post about depression

A couple of days ago, I started writing a post, and I got a lot of it done, but I saved it to finish it up yesterday. Then, I read it yesterday, and realized it sounded really depressing! I didn't mean for it to sound like that; I'd basically just written about the ups and downs of my depression last year.

I still haven't been feeling back to normal, so I went to a new doctor yesterday to try and come up with a plan and possibly switch medication. I really liked the doctor, and he added one medication that should hopefully help me get through this. I don't really enjoy writing about depression, because it's so stigmatized, but I know a lot of people have found it helpful to read (if only so that they don't feel alone in the battle). I also hope by explaining it in-depth, it'll help people to understand what a loved one with depression may be going through.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Baby shower weekend

After a super crazy weekend, I'm so looking forward to a few low-key days.

On Friday, my sister (along with Shawn and her friend Jen) drove here from Illinois. Once they got to the Michigan/Indiana border, the roads were TERRIBLE due to the lake effect snow on the western side of Michigan. So, they had to pull off the road and get a hotel for a few hours while the salt trucks went out. I was really worried they wouldn't be able to get here, but after four hours at the hotel, they were able to get on the road again.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Four year anniversary of Ragnar

Well, it seems that 2017 is off to a decent start :)

The weather was super nice here on Monday, so to take advantage of the weather, the kids and I went to Nike Park. It's a HUGE fenced in park, and whenever we've gone, there hasn't been anyone there--so it's a great place to take Joey off leash. (They really ought to turn this park into a dog park. We don't have any dog parks around here.)

The kids and I played on the playground while Joey ran around sniffing every single blade of grass in the park. One of the things on my list of things to do with the kids this year was to take them to Nike Park, so we crossed that one off right away. A couple of people asked me to see the list, so here is a picture of it. A lot of it isn't really relevant unless you live around here, but there are other ideas as well.

(You'll probably have to click to enlarge it enough to read it)

Eli is 1 of 30 kids in his grade that were selected to compete for a spelling bee (all of the kids were given a spelling test, and the top 30 kids then do a mini spelling bee to select the top 10). Anyway, after Eli's disappointment from not making the Quiz Bowl team in the fall, it was very exciting that he is in the top 30 for this. Even if he doesn't go further than that, it's quite the accomplishment! I'm super proud of him.

Today is the four-year anniversary of when my Ragnar Florida Keys team, From Fat to Finish Line, crossed the finish line in Key West! In some ways, that day feels like it happened a million years ago; in others, it feels like just yesterday. And it will always be unbelievable to me that the whole thing is now a documentary on Netflix!

This is an anniversary video that the producer made on the one-year anniversary. One of my friends shared it on Facebook today, and I had forgotten about it. I love this video! I think it's the song that makes it so emotional for me. My favorite part is when my face lights up as I see John running in for the major exchange between him and I. I don't remember if that's in the actual film or not.

I have a crazy busy weekend ahead of me. Jeanie and Shawn (my sister and brother-in-law) are coming in from Illinois because we're having a baby shower for Becky. Just two more months until I'm an aunt!!

Eli's 11th birthday is on Saturday, which is the same day as the shower, so we're going to celebrate his birthday on Friday. He wants everyone to go out to dinner together--"everyone" being my parents, my siblings, and their spouses. On Saturday, we have the baby shower and then we're going to Brian's for dinner, drinks, and games. On Sunday, Eli is having a birthday party at the bowling alley with some of his school friends.

As I write this, I'm in the middle of making an enormous batch of rice--enough for 40 people!--for the shower. We're having a "Javanese lunch"--I have no idea the origin of this meal, I just remember growing up eating it once in a while (usually at a shower). It's basically a buffet of 10 ingredients: rice, diced chicken or turkey, almonds or peanuts, green onions, celery, pineapple, coconut, cheddar cheese, chow mein noodles, and gravy. You start with the rice, and then add the other stuff on top. It's delicious! The ingredients seem so odd, but they work really well together. Anyway, I am in charge of making the rice, so I'm getting that prepped today.

So, a crazy weekend ahead, but super fun. I love getting to hang out with my brothers and sister! We only all get together about once a year, so I always look forward to it.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Goals for 2017

Happy New Year, Friends! I'm hoping that 2017 is going to be a great one.

We spent NYE at Renee's with her husband and boys
Much like my last post about my end of the year post, I like to spend the beginning of each new year making some goals. I know that "new year's resolutions" are tired and cliché, so I don't really call my goals that--but there is something really special about the beginning of a new year when it comes to setting goals.

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